Author: Judy Leigh
Published: August 2022 by Boldwood Books
Category: Contemporary, Fiction, Literary, Romance, Family, Humour
In the imposing Glen Carrick House overlooking Scotland’s famous Loch Ness, lives eighty-eight-year-old Mimi McKinlay, cared for by her three adult sons. Hamish has inherited his mother’s musical talents, Fin is the responsible brother, and Angus has the complicated and brooding personality to match his dashing good looks.
But what all the brothers share is a concern that their beloved mother is living in her memories of her days on stage, while letting her present days pass her by.
Octogenarian Mimi McKinlay may be a diminutive lady but she’s not quite ready to give in to age. Sometimes quite lonely, she re-lives her glory days in the theatre by dressing up, dancing and singing in her room in the attic, while enjoying her favourite tipple and egged on by her marginally younger friend, Isabella. Neither Mimi nor Isabella were ready to grow old gracefully, both were as flamboyant as each other and had a high old time when they were out and about.
Mimi tottered over to the stereo system on wobbly heels, bending over the record player, letting the needle drop on the revolving grooves. Immediately, a dusty crackling spat through the speakers and a razzle-dazzle trumpet blasted out.
She twirled in the crumpled costume and the years fell away. The dress was loose now, but the silk was still creamy and soft. the skirt with the long, feathered tail a blaze of scarlet. With her hair piled high, diamanté jewellery glinting, eyelashes fixed like fluttering fans, she was twenty-one again…
Mimi lived with her sons Finlay and Hamish, with her third son Hamish, who writes and produces musicals for the stage, visiting as often as he could. They were all worried about Mimi living in the past and decided she needed a companion to befriend her and bring her into the present.
Based at a B&B, Jess Oliver was holidaying in the Highlands while her brother renovated her new home. Having recently sold the business she and her ex husband had owned, she was revelling in her freedom. When Jess’s brother phoned with the unwelcome news that the renovations were going to take much longer than expected, Jess was in a quandary. Her room at the B&B was booked out and she had nowhere to go. Perhaps the advertisement for a live in companion would solve her temporary problem.
The Highland Hens is a wonderfully written story with endearing characters. The romance aspect doesn’t overwhelm the storyline but emphasises that no matter your age, second chances are always possible. I love the relationship that develops between Jess and Mimi. Jess listens to all Mimi’s stories, they go out together, sometimes Isabella and the brothers join them, and they all have lots of fun. The story generates many emotions. There are lovely family interactions, friendship, humour and sadness. I did shed a tear or two.
I haven’t read anything by Judy Leigh before, but I’ll be rectifying that as soon as I can. I saw The Highland Hens reviewed on The Chocolate Lady’s Blog and knew it was something I’d enjoy.
Judy Leigh has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset. After teaching theatre, writing lyrics for a punk band and setting up Shakespeare Festivals, she completed an MA in Professional Writing.
She is a prolific writer, but when she is not at her computer you will find her on the beach, walking, doing yoga or splashing in the sea. She is also a Reiki healer, a vegan and an animal lover. She has three black cats and she enjoys live music, theatre and football.